Refugee Week 2024: Promoting Employment Opportunities for Refugees

Written by Richard O'Connor
Last updated June 12, 2024

Refugee Week 2024, the world’s largest arts and culture festival celebrating refugees will take place from 17-23rd June. This year’s theme, “Our Home”, is particularly poignant as 2024 has seen a 20% increase in the number of refugees in need of resettlement compared to 2023.

Refugee Week is a time to honour the contributions, creativity, and resilience of refugees. It acts as a platform to create understanding and to encourage communities to accept and welcome people seeking sanctuary. One way of doing this is by promoting employment opportunities for refugees.

Here at Aspiring to Include, we believe that meaningful work is vital for integration and the well-being of refugees. 

With this in mind, we’ve written today’s blog. This blog explores the significance of employment for refugees, the challenges they face, and how we can collectively support their journey towards stable employment.

Overview of Refugee Week 2024

To me, a home is where you feel loved, safe, and cherished.”- Malala Yousafzai

Refugee Week 2024 will focus this year’s theme on “Our Home.” It emphasises the idea of creating a sense of belonging and home for refugees within the UK. It invites us to reflect on what home means and how we can extend the warmth and security of home to those seeking refuge. 

From 17th to 23rd June, various events and activities will be held across the UK, including community gatherings, cultural performances, and educational workshops. These events aim to raise awareness, celebrate the contributions of refugees, and encourage active participation from all sectors of society. 

And contributing is easy. Helping someone feel at home can be as simple as having a chat, sending a welcome message, or strolling to the shops together. “If the shoe were on the other foot…” will help guide you in the right direction.

“Our Home” aims to cultivate a more inclusive and welcoming environment where refugees feel they truly belong.

Challenges Faced by Refugees in Employment

Unfortunately, despite their resilience and diverse skill sets, refugees often encounter significant barriers when seeking employment. These challenges can include:

Language barriers

Many refugees may not be fluent in English, making it difficult to communicate effectively in job interviews or workplace settings. For instance, recent studies by Migration Observatory show that 40% of migrants with limited or no English proficiency could only secure low-skilled jobs, compared to just 9% of migrants who spoke English well.

Recognition of qualifications

Refugees are often highly qualified professionals in their own country. However, these credentials may not be recognised in the UK, forcing many to accept jobs that simply don’t match their skills and experience. Interestingly, migrants are 12% more likely to hold a higher education qualification than those born in the UK.

Cultural differences

It can be challenging having to adapt to a new cultural and professional environment. Differences in workplace norms, expectations, and practices can create misunderstandings and hinder successful integration.

Discrimination and prejudice

Refugees may face discrimination and bias during the hiring process. Misconceptions about their background and abilities can limit their employment opportunities and contribute to a sense of exclusion.

Lack of professional networks

Most of us have been able to build a network of professional contacts throughout our careers. Many refugees were able to do this in their own country, but often arrive in the UK without these connections and must start from scratch. This makes it much harder to find employment opportunities and receive career advice.

Importance of Employment for Refugees

Finding meaningful employment is a cornerstone for the successful integration of refugees. It provides numerous benefits that extend beyond financial stability:

1. Financial independence

Having a job allows refugees to support themselves and their families. In turn, it reduces their reliance on public assistance and enables them to contribute economically to their new communities.

2. Social integration

Being part of a work environment helps refugees build relationships, improve their language skills, and understand local customs and practices.

3. Personal fulfilment

Employment provides a sense of purpose and self-worth. It enables refugees to utilise the skills and talents they developed in their country before they were forced to leave. With this comes a sense of achievement and personal growth.

4. Community contribution

By working and paying taxes, refugees actively contribute to the economic development of the communities they live in. 

Initiatives and Programmes

Several initiatives and programmes in the UK are dedicated to promoting employment opportunities for refugees. 

These efforts aim to bridge the gap between refugees and the job market, providing tailored support to overcome the challenges they face:

Refugee Employment Network (REN)

REN is a coalition of organisations working to improve employment outcomes for refugees. It offers guidance, training, and mentorship to help refugees navigate the job market and secure meaningful employment.

Business in the Community (BITC)

BITC’s “Opening Doors for Refugees” campaign aims to remove barriers to work for disadvantaged people, including refugees. It asks businesses in the UK to use more inclusive recruitment practices to unlock employment opportunities for excluded groups.

Refugee Education and Training Advisory Service (RETAS)

RETAS is a West Yokrshire-based charity that supports refugees in accessing education and vocational training. By helping refugees gain UK-recognised qualifications, RETAS enhances their employability and opens up more career opportunities.

Refugee Employability Programme (REP)

The REP is a UK government initiative designed to support refugees in finding work and integrating into English society. It’s specifically aimed at helping those who arrived through certain resettlement programmes or were granted refugee status. 

Read our blog about the REP 👉

Aspiring to Include

Aspiring to Include is an employment website that connects diverse job seekers with inclusive employers across the UK. Its Support Hub provides advice and guidance for refugee job seekers looking to start a new life in the UK. Aspiring to Include’s inclusive jobs board helps refugees find jobs with equal opportunities employers.

How Employers Can Help

Employers play a crucial role in supporting refugees’ employment journey. By adopting inclusive practices, businesses can benefit from the unique skills and perspectives that refugees bring. 

Here are some practical steps employers can take:

  • Provide Language Support: Offer language training or partner with organisations that provide language classes to help refugees improve their English skills.
  • Recognise International Qualifications: Work with professional bodies to recognise the qualifications and skills that refugees bring from their home countries.
  • Offer Mentorship Programmes: Pair refugees with experienced employees to provide guidance, support, and networking opportunities.
  • Create Inclusive Work Environments: Employers need to cultivate a workplace culture that values diversity and inclusion by providing training on cultural competence and unconscious bias.
  • Flexible Hiring Practices: Adjust hiring practices to focus on skills and potential rather than just formal qualifications.
  • Participate in Refugee Week: Engage in Refugee Week 2024 activities to demonstrate your commitment to supporting refugees and raising awareness about their contributions.


Refugee Week 2024 is a great chance to highlight how important it is for refugees to find jobs and the positive impact this has on both individuals and communities.

By tackling the challenges refugees face and backing initiatives that support their employment, we can help create a more inclusive and thriving society.

Employers, organisations, and individuals all have a part to play in making sure refugees have access to meaningful job opportunities. Let’s work together to make refugees feel at home.

Are you an employer looking to employ refugees? Make the most of our resources and support for employers to discover everything you need to know about becoming diversity-positive. Check out the services we offer employers and how you can use our inclusive job board to connect with 10,000+ diverse job seekers across the UK.

Anything else you need? Get in touch with our team – we’re looking forward to hearing from you.

Share This Story

Last Updated: Wednesday June 12 2024
Go to Top